30 March 2020
An unusual fatal flow failure in a large sand pile in China
In the evening of 27 March 2020 a large failure occurred in what is reported to have been a sand heap (I suspect in reality that this is not simple sand) at the Guizhou Commercial Concrete Co., Ltd. in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in China. At the time of writing this landslide is reported to have killed seven people, of whom four have been recovered. The recovery operation continues for the other three victims. A further nine people were injured in the failure.
It is quite difficult to get a true sense of what has happened at this site; this is a somewhat unusual landslide and the reporting that I have tracked down, in both Mandarin and English, is not detailed. The best image I have found that gives a sense of this event is on the News 163 website, in Mandarin:-
The landslide appears to have occurred in the sand heap closest to the camera, with the scarp located close to the two vehicles. Three vehicles seem to be located at the foot of the landslide scarp. The sand (and some much coarser material) has flowed towards the left side of the image through and around the buildings.
Other images from News 163 suggest that this was a highly mobile failure. The image below for example shows a courtyard between the buildings, presumably to the left of the area in the first image:-
The image suggests that this flow had a high water content and high mobility – indeed this looks like a liquefaction failure or flowslide. The landslide has travelled a considerable distance, felling large storage tanks and moving concrete mixer trucks. Note that the damaged trucks and displaced sand extend to the building at the far end of the second image.
A simple interpretation is that this is a large rotational landslide that has transitioned into a highly mobile flow. However, the reasons why this has occurred are less clear to me.
The nearest similar landslide I can think of immediately is the huge construction waste slide in Shenzhen in 2015, but that was an event on a different scale.
Can anyone else think of a landslide that is an analogue to this one?